Turning a key or pushing a button is all it takes to start a car. But there are times when it will need more than those things to start the vehicle. A variety of reasons could be behind a malfunctioning vehicle and why the car won’t start. These factors should be taken seriously. Leaving them unrepaired can lead to a more complex issue.
At Peninsula Auto Clinic, our mechanics can help determine what is wrong with vehicles of all types, sizes and brands. Our experience and knowledge can help determine whether the car battery, the alternator or other components are responsible for when the car won’t start.
Battery or Alternator: Which is Responsible?
The battery and the alternator are usual suspects when the car can’t start. These two are dependent on each other. The alternator does not only distribute energy through the whole vehicle, it is also in charge of recharging the battery. But how does the alternator create electricity?
The electricity it distributes comes from the engine. In newer car models, alternators are driven by the engine’s crankshaft via a serpentine belt. This belt moves and spins the alternator’s rotor thus creating electricity. When it cannot do this function, the alternator is the root cause of this problem. These are common indications of a bad alternator:
- Dead battery – A dead battery usually means it has reached the end of its lifespan. However, a bad alternator could also be behind a dead battery. A failing alternator cannot properly recharge a car battery, which results in it failing to start the car.
- Dim or overly bright lights – The vehicle’s electronic accessories usually get inconsistent voltage when the alternator begins to fail. This sign usually presents in the headlights, as it could be dim or overly bright when this happens.
- Trouble starting the car – When the car does not start after turning the key or pushing the start button, it means a bad alternator. A clicking sound instead of a roaring engine is usually heard when there’s a bad alternator.
- Growling noises – Whining noises normally is a telltale sign of a malfunctioning alternator. Cars usually do make weird noises, but some sounds indicate serious vehicle problems. A misaligned belt that turns the alternator’s pulley is the reason behind this growling or whining sound. It could also be due to a bad bearing responsible for spinning the rotor shaft.
- The smell of burning rubber – This foul odour is a sign that parts of the alternator are starting to wear out. Due to the constant tension and friction experienced by the belt, it causes wear out and is responsible for the burning rubber smell. It could also be due to an overworked alternator. This situation happens when the alternator pushes more than the average electricity through the wires and causes them to heat up over a safe temperature.
- The battery warning light is on – Car owners usually associate a turned on battery warning light with a battery problem. However, it could also be an indication of wider electrical system trouble, including the alternator. Alternators work on a voltage between 13 to 14.5 volts. When it fails, it causes the battery warning light to turn on.
But when the car does not have a bad alternator, why does it fail to start? The car battery could be responsible if it has been ruled out that it was not the alternator’s fault.
When It is Due to a Dead Battery?
When is it the car battery that’s responsible for the car not starting? Car owners can determine this by measuring it using a battery tester to measure cranking amps. Those who cannot test their battery can opt to jump-start their vehicle. When it starts after jump-starting, a dead battery is the cause of the problem.
Car batteries usually last an average of three to five years. However, some instances could shorten its lifespan. The following factors contribute to car batteries failing:
- High temperature – Heat is the number one reason behind battery failures. Heat can cause corrosion and grid growth in the positive plate. With the erosion of the positive plate, the battery loses capacity and starting power, thus its weaker ability to start the engine.
- High vibration – Vibration can also cause battery issues. It damages and separates internal components that lead to the battery’s inability to start the vehicle.
- Deep drains – Discharged materials are lead sulphate crystals made by active materials when the battery is discharged. When the discharged battery is not recharged as soon as possible, larger crystals are produced. The failure to start the car comes from the inability of the battery to break down these large crystals.
- A faulty alternator – As previously mentioned, a bad alternator cannot recharge the car battery. With an undercharged battery, it has reduced capacity and starting power.
How To Fix a Car That Won’t Start?
Whether it is a dead battery or a bad alternator, there are alternative ways to start a car. Here are some recommendations from expert mechanics:
- For those with a dead battery, a jumper cable is a helpful tool in this situation. Additionally, you also need a vehicle with a good battery. Various car manufacturers have their own recommended way of jump-starting a vehicle. It is best to consult your car’s manual.
- For bad battery connections, try twisting and turning the cable connection at the battery while the car is turned off. When it is easy to manipulate them, it has a bad battery connection. Mechanics recommend cleaning the battery terminals before tightening them to ensure there is no corrosion or dirt.
- For those with a bad alternator, an experienced and trained mechanic can help.
Contact the Best Mechanic in Sydney Today!
Car owners should choose a mechanic with a proven track record in repairing all vehicle types. Our team at Peninsula Auto Clinic has the top-rated Northern Beaches mechanics in town who know what to do when the car won’t start. All have spent years honing their skills. All hold a motor vehicle repairer tradesperson certificate from NSW Fair Trading. This licence ensures that every car service or car repair they do is guaranteed to deliver safe and comfortable drives. Our mechanics specialise in determining whether the car has a bad alternator or they need a car battery replacement. By choosing to work with us, we guarantee car owners the best resolution for their car battery or alternator issues. Contact Peninsula Auto Clinic now to have the most qualified mechanic in Sydney attend to your malfunctioning vehicle today and when the car won’t start!